Why Emory?

Challenging Academics

Emory is a highly ranked research university: No. 21 among national universities and No. 18 among national universities offering the best value to students based on a combination of academic quality and need-based financial aid (U.S. News and World Report 2015). 60% of Emory classes have fewer than 20 students, and the student-faculty ratio is an impressive 8:1.

32% of Emory undergraduates pursue a double major. Theater majors have also majored (or minored) in business, economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, international studies, history, political science, philosophy, religion, English, French, Spanish, linguistics, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, mathematics, music, film studies, visual arts, and women’s studies.

Student may pursue a major or minor in Theater Studies or a major in Playwriting, a joint major taught by Theater Studies and Emory’s top-ranked Creative Writing Program. The Concentration in Arts Management, a collaboration with the highly ranked Goizueta Business School, is open to business students and majors in Theater, Dance, and Music.

A core of required courses is balanced by the flexibility to pursue a variety of sequences. At Emory you can find your own path. Our majors and minors are not limited by specializing in one area; they are exposed to all aspects of theater: performance; history, literature, and criticism; design and technical theater; and administration. We prepare students with multiple skill sets and diverse perspectives that will serve them in a wide range of future opportunities.   

Two opportunities for study abroad in theater offer a variety of other training experiences.

  • A semester program in Arezzo, Italy, at the Accademia dell’Arte, focuses on physical theater. Commedia dell’Arte is the focus for movement and body work, voice, mask-making, and a seminar on the philosophy of art and performance.
  • A semester at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) provides concentrated acting work in a conservatory setting: 30 hours a week of acting, improvisation, voice, movement, singing, textual analysis, physical theater, etc.

Emory also offers several sources of funding that make it possible for theater students to initiate and realize creative work of their own. SIRE (Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory) funds undergraduate research conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The Center for Creativity & Arts (CCA) offers grants for projects throughout the academic year and the summer. Friends of Theater Emory supports majors who are pursuing summer study or internships.

Successful Alumni

Our graduates have entered leading graduate programs and launched professional careers. Because we encourage entrepreneurial innovation, our alumni also include artistic directors and company founders. Our mission is to train resilient artists, original thinkers, and courageous practitioners.

Our alumni have done graduate work in theater at Yale Drama (7), NYU (3), Columbia, CUNY, Cornell, UC San Diego, UC Davis, Stanford, ACT, DePaul, Columbia College, Brandeis, the Academy for Classical Acting at GWU, Ohio State, Texas, Tulane, LAMDA (2) and the Central School of Speech and Drama, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, and Le Conservatoire National Superieur D’Art Dramatique in Paris.

Alumni have gone on to theater careers as performers, directors, designers, technicians, stage managers, administrators, producers, and educators (collegiate, secondary, elementary). 20 alumni have founded or co-founded 13 companies (and counting). Several alumni have founded their own companies in other fields. We know of 10 current Artistic Directors among our alumni.

While many of our alumni are still actively engaged in the arts – more than 60% in a recent survey – our theater majors have also gone to leading medical schools and law schools, and to graduate study in many fields (psychology, counseling, medieval studies, anthropology, business, education, social services, public service, library science, filmmaking, and religion). They have become doctors, lawyers, teachers, administrators, consultants, and business people of all sorts.

Notable Alumni:

  • Lauren Gunderson is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced across the country. She has been published and featured several times in American Theater.

  • Adam Richman went from Emory to an internship at the Actor’s Theater of Louisville and then to Yale Drama for his MFA, went on to fame as the host of Man v. Food and is now the host of NBC’s Food Fighters.

  • Dave Quay is a recent MFA graduate of NYU, is off to a fast start with roles at the Classic Stage Company, the Shakespeare Theatre in DC, the Mint Theater, the Public Theater, and a recurring role on House of Cards.

  • Scott Turner Schofield is an actor, author, and diversity speaker. He is currently on The Bold and the Beautiful, the first transgender actor to appear on daytime television.

  • Joel Ganz is a graduate of the LeCoq school in Paris, did over 500 performances of War Horse at Lincoln Center.

  • Mark Blankenship earned his MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale Drama and has numerous writing credits in The New York Times, American Theater, Variety, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, and NPR. He regularly appears on CBS News: Sunday and on CNN.com.

  • Snehal Desai is currently Literary Manager at East West Players in Los Angeles. He was recently profiled in SDC Journal.

  • Kimberly Jannarone is a Professor of Theater Arts at UC Santa Cruz. In 2015-16 she will be a Beinecke Fellow at the Yale Repertory Theater and a Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Drama, where she received her DFA.

  • Megan Monaghan Rivas has led the literary departments of the South Coast Repertory Theatre, the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and Frontera in Austin, TX, and oversaw the artistic programming for playwrights at the Lark Play Development Center in New York City and The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. She is currently Associate Professor of Dramaturgy at Carnegie-Mellon University.

  • Meghan Healey went on to the graduate program in design for stage and film at NYU, is now Chair of the Department of Drama at Queens College (CUNY). She has designed costumes (via Meghan E. Healey Design) for Wooly Mammoth, Cornerstone Theater  Company, and more than 50 premieres. 

  • Mark Erbaugh, a scenic designer for television, film, and theater, has for a decade been Art Director for Late Show with David Letterman, where another alum, Jason Kirschner, has been the Production Designer.

  • Emily Kleypas is in her third year as an artistic associate at the Alliance Theater, and has freelanced as a producer.

Graduate Study

  • Those who choose to pursue graduate training in theater generally wait a few years to do so, as leading performance programs generally prefer not to admit students directly from undergraduate programs. In the past seven years, we have sent students to Yale Drama (7), NYU (3), Columbia, CUNY, Cornell, UC San Diego, UC Davis, Stanford, ACT, DePaul, Columbia College, Brandeis, the Academy for Classical Acting at GWU, Ohio State, Texas, Tulane, LAMDA (2) and the Central School of Speech and Drama, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, and Le Conservatoire National Superieur D’Art Dramatique in Paris.

  • Majors and minors have also gone to leading medical schools and law schools, and to graduate study in many fields (psychology, counseling, medieval studies, anthropology, business, education, social services, public service, library science, filmmaking, and religion).

  • Among theater graduates who have gone into law are Charlie Henn, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend LLP; Susan Jacobs, a Senior Trial Attorney for the US Department of Labor; Rob Kimmer, a Senior Attorney at Rader, Fishman & Grauer, PLLC, and Matthew Reiss, who still does improv while practicing law in Chicago.

  • Among theater alums who have gone into medicine are Ethan Silverman, Anne Maxwell, and Erich Renner.

  • Christina Wallace, the Founding Director of BridgeUp: STEM, a new educational initiative at the American Museum of Natural History, was previously the Founding Director of the Startup Institute New York, the Founder and CEO of venture-backed fashion company Quincy Apparel, and an arts manager at the Metropolitan Opera. Her MBA is from Harvard Business School.

Entreprenurial

  • Some 15 years ago, a group of Emory students co-founded Out Of Hand Theater, which became a cutting-edge, critically acclaimed Atlanta company. It has collaborated with companies from other cities and countries, and it has toured in Europe.

  • 20 alumni have founded or co-founded 13 companies (and counting). Several alumni have founded their own companies in other fields.

  • 10 current Artistic Directors among our alumni: 4 in Atlanta; 5 in other cities, and one Bobby Jones Scholar from St. Andrew’s University in Scotland who spent three years with us is now an Associate AD in London.

  • One alumnus has carved a career touring original monologues as well as acting.

  • The Emory Chinese Theater Club (ECTC) was founded four years ago by the first of our Chinese theater majors, who in 2015 mounted China’s first productions of Athol Fugard in Shanghai. ECTC’s excellent work has been marked by ambitious efforts to expand its audience’s theatrical horizons, including its own translations of plays by Dario Fo and Martin McDonagh.

Theater Emory

Our Equity company, Theater Emory, makes it possible for students to work with professional actors, directors, designers, stage managers and researchers – an exceptional opportunity in American theater education. Theater Emory serves our faculty, students, and guest artists as a laboratory for artistic research. All casting is age-appropriate, and student actors are regularly cast in central or supporting roles. Auditions are open to all, regardless of major and year. From 2013-15, over 300 students were cast or otherwise engaged in Theater Emory productions. Theater Emory often provides a student with his or her first professional credits.

Theater Emory’s Playwriting Center produces a biennial Brave New Works festival that gathers a company of professional and student actors to work with visiting playwrights, directors and dramaturgs on the development of new scripts.

Our faculty, in addition to their professional work at Theater Emory, for which they have won many critical citations, work in Atlanta, nationally, and internationally. In just the last five years, John Ammerman, Tim McDonough, Mary Lynn Owen and Leslie Taylor all won a Suzi Bass Award – Metro Atlanta’s annual recognition of excellence in theater. ArtsATL cited Theater Emory’s Pinter 2015 season as the "Best College Theater." Performance faculty have also published books on clowning, adaptation, and the actor as storyteller.

Student Theater

Six student-run theater groups produce a wide range of work: classics and contemporary plays, musicals, improv comedy, new works, and projects about issues of concern to diverse communities. These groups are student-funded, student-run, and student-programmed:

Ad Hoc Productions mounts a musical every semester. It produces both older and recent shows.

Dooley Players produces 2-3 events a year, from classics to contemporary plays to original work.

The Emory Chinese Theater Club produces 2-3 shows in Mandarin with projected surtitles: Chinese scripts, their own translations of Western plays, or original work. It is venturing into bilingual performance.

Rathskellar is Emory’s comedy improv group and is believed to be the oldest collegiate group in the nation. It performs all over campus throughout the year.

Emory Playwrights in Constellation (EPiC) encourages students to workshop and develop plays and new works through talkback sessions, collaborative gatherings, and the exchange of ideas.

Emory’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega produces Lenaia, an annual student playwriting festival, and the annual presentation of awards for student actors, directors, designers, and productions.

Atlanta Arts

Atlanta is a vibrant arts city and the hub of the southeast. It has a strong theater community, with a Tony Award-winning regional theater (the Alliance Theatre) and a diversity of smaller companies. Atlanta is a rapidly growing center for filmmaking, cable programming, and music.

Theater majors have been interns with the Alliance TheatreThe Center for Puppetry ArtsHorizon Theatre CompanyTheatrical OutfitSynchronicity TheatreOut Of Hand Theater, and other Atlanta companies, as well as with CNN. Others have done summer internships in New York, Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, etc.